Japan Faces Historic Change as Election Opens

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2009 7:16 AM CDT
Members of House of Representatives chant 'Banzai!' after PM Taro Aso dissolved the lower house of parliament Tuesday, July 21, 2009.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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(Newser) – Japanese PM Taro Aso dissolved parliament today to begin a watershed election that could break his party's 50-year grip on power, Reuters reports. In a nationwide TV address, Aso apologized for his shortcomings as a leader and for internal squabbling that cost his conservative party at recent local elections. Opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama, far ahead in the polls to become the next PM, said today that "This is a major, revolutionary election. We should face it with a sense of historic mission."

Hatoyama's party promises to be more responsive to consumers, to cut bureaucracy, and to be less submissive to the US.